The ArtBridge Kingston project was originally conceived by Raleigh Green as an opportunity to bring renewed, public attention to an economically depressed neighborhood, Midtown Kingston. The location of Midtown, the intersection of many other parts of the city, represents an opportunity for building additional momentum in the city’s overall revitalization. At the center of Midtown are two side-by-side iron-trellis type bridges, one for cars and one for trains. Because of the bridges shabby appearance, the area has been a local eyesore, detracting from the potential and promise for renewal. It is here that a New York-based non-profit, ArtBridge comes into the picture.
ArtBridge, known to Raleigh Green while living in New York, transforms and ‘rebrands’ underused public spaces (such as street scaffolding and construction walls) into positive destinations by displaying emerging artists’ work in large format. The non-profit, founded by designer and artist Rodney Durso, helps to reframe perceptions of a location, similar to what a new logo or new packaging can accomplish in branding. These public art displays cover or camouflage unattractive locations, provide visibility to local artists, invite positive attention to development efforts, and foster community consciousness. ArtBridge’s mission was perfect for Kingston. Raleigh Green convinced ArtBridge to take it on. It is ArtBridge’s first foray outside of New York City, and is representative of a New York – Kingston connection that has existed since the founding of both cities.
The ArtBridge Kingston initiative required many participants to come together including municipal, business, arts, community and other groups. Spearheading the initiative, Raleigh Green sought funding and sponsorships, city approvals, and public awareness. Outreach to local arts groups such as the Arts Society of Kingston and O Positive was done to encourage creative submissions for the installation and build support for the project. The experienced hands of the Art Bridge team in New York City provided support, guidance and more. It truly ‘took a village’ to accomplish.
Over 100 art submissions were received, and two selected for display by a locally comprised panel of art professionals. The original artwork was photographed and printed onto a special mesh material in large format. Some complex hardware and installation preparations were required so that the banners could cover the sides of both bridges.
As planned, ArtBridge Kingston was installed just in time for city’s Shamrock Run and St. Patrick’s Day Parade. As many as 5,000 runners, and thousands of marchers and spectators went underneath the bridge along the parade route, enjoying their first exposure to the art display.
An art opening and reception held in Midtown Kingston is scheduled for March 15, providing the community the opportunity to come together and celebrate public art and the initiative.
The ArtBridge Kingston installation will remain for six months, from mid-March through Labor Day in 2013. When the banners are removed, tote bags will be created from the material, each one being a unique piece of art and history. The tote bags will be auctioned-off to support future projects of ArtBridge.
It is hoped that the revitalization of Midtown will assist the entire City of Kingston to become more integrated and enter a new, even more prosperous phase in its long and rich history.